Dispatches > The Buzz

Flashtraffic: Gore asked CIA to keep information from Congress

Gregory Vistica's new book sheds new light on Al Gore's activity in the White House.

Issue: "Lord of the box office," Jan. 11, 2003

During the heat of the 1996 presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore asked the Central Intelligence Agency to provide his daughter a false passport, a false driver's license, training in classified covert operations, and special security protection in Europe-and then keep it from Congress. The startling story-reported in a forthcoming book by Gregory L. Vistica, a 60 Minutes II producer and former Newsweek correspondent-comes out on the heels of Mr. Gore's surprising announcement that he would not run for president in 2004.

Mr. Vistica writes in The Education of Lieutenant Kerrey (Thomas Dunne Books, January 2003) that Bob Kerrey-then vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee-learned that the thenÐvice president had instructed CIA director John Deutch not to notify Congress that the agency was covertly helping to protect Mr. Gore's daughter while she lived in Spain and worked as a reporter for a Madrid newspaper. Federal law requires the agency to provide congressional notification on all covert operations, but at Mr. Gore's insistence refused for months to tell key ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

"Jeff Smith, then the CIA's general counsel, advised Deutch that the agency had the legal authority to carry out the assignment," writes Mr. Vistica, "but said it was 'exceedingly ill-advised.' Despite Deutch's approval of the operation, the CIA's top management recommended against helping the Gores. If something went wrong, if the girls were hurt or abducted, the agency would take the blame for doing too little or not doing enough. But Gore balked at the recommendation."

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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